Issue-7: How to save a newspaper?

10 years ago, The New York Times was dying. Now, it's minting money. Here's something we can learn.

Hello and Welcome to Rayaan Writer Newsletter. This is the Seventh Issue.

To improvise the quality, I decided to do a survey on the news reading habits of my readers. I’ll be delighted if you can spare one minute of your time to do this.👇🏽

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In the last edition, I promised to improvise the content I offer. This edition marks my first attempt. I have written news that matters, curated a list of exceptional information available across the internet, and also tried out new graphic banners. Do share this email with your family and friends.❤️😊

The New York Times is often labeled as the most prestigious newspaper in the world. Its style of journalism is unmatched. Journalists, like myself, always dream of working here or at least see their bylines appear here once.

Despite its consistency to produce good journalism over the decades, its print business was dying. In the 2000s, the New York Times was close to shutting down for good. It had over a billion dollars in debt. But now, ten years later, the tables have turned.

It has zero debt and its making... tons of money. How did they do it? Their growth story isn't just a necessary read for journalists or media owners but to every entrepreneur.

Once upon a thriving industry…

Before the birth of the Internet or social media, in particular, newspapers were a thriving business. Media moguls minted money through advertisements. Retailers, automobile makers, and the like spent lavishly on print ads. But just like anything in life, the print industry soon saw a decline. Media baron, Rupert Murdoch, is famously quoted for calling newspapers as "rivers of gold... but sometimes rivers dry up".

Social Media Impact

The growth of TV news channels and the birth of tech giants like Google, Facebook, or WhatsApp slowly started affecting the print industry. The news was available in just a click. Businessmen said "A-ha!" and started pouring all their money on digital advertisements instead. But the ad revenue didn't necessarily reach the pockets of digital news owners as Google or Facebook were mostly benefitted.

Newspapers responded by reducing the cost of advertisements in a bid to continue retaining their customers. They also downsized their teams, ending up firing good journalists. Such a move obviously proved expensive as newspapers in India or the rest of the world are now struggling to survive. Adding to this misery is the coronavirus pandemic which has forced several small print papers to shut down.

A Story of Survival

Just like most of the major newspapers across the world, in terms of circulation numbers and revenue size, the New York Times had debts, a handful of bad investments, and other big responsibilities.

This is how their balance sheets looked at the beginning of the previous decade.👇🏽

The stats reveal how bad the paper was performing. But consider its current statistics.👇🏽

It has zero debt, it has diversified and invested in producing high-quality journalism.

Growth Lessons

The transformation of The New York Times from a struggling newspaper to a thriving business is exceptional. The paper focused on:

High-quality journalism

They constantly invested in producing quality journalism. They got the best journalists working for other publications and hired them with a better salary package. While other publications focused on firing journalists, The New York Times hired more and more reporters.

At the end of the day, the paper just followed the most essential and obvious thing; focus on journalists and journalism. Journalists are the heart and soul of a publication. If you don't take steps to save them, then your paper is as good as dead.

Hire the best person who is willing to learn and help your company thrive. Offer an exceptional atmosphere for growth. Never let down your employees. Teamwork matters.

Improvising Tech

The next strategy was increasing efficiency and productivity. The paper invested heavily in improvising its website and the operational tech required to run a paper. They gave journalists the necessary tools that would help them to work better. They trained journalists to become better reporters.

They used Slack, increased social media engagement, and enhanced their content management system (CMS). They implemented the subscription model to attract readers. The New York Times smartly tapped into this revenue model as soon as it figured that print was dying.

Offer tools that propel your team to grow. Diversify and keep up with the latest trend in your sector. Upskill employees. People are willing to pay for quality content. There will always be a customer for your business. Work your ass off to find them.

How Ad Model Works
How Subscription Model Works

Clean Balance Sheet, Expand Revenue Option

The newspaper sold off "its non-core assets”, and cleared its debts. They started exploring other options like podcasts to expand its revenue options. New York Times had focussed only on writing journalism for print. But it diversified and expanded its style for a digital purpose; developing high-quality content on its exciting website or by producing engaging podcast shows.

When your business is stuck, try expanding your horizons. See if there’s a possiblity to grow in other field using the skills you already know. If your business is doing good, then try expanding your mode of revenue. Research and analyse. Talk to people and dive.

(Graph Credits: Mine Safety Disclosures Blog.©️All rights reserved.) Read the detailed report here.

The Pandemic Update🦠
  • The state of the vaccine race as on October 27. (By Morning Brew). Read here.

  • How the coronavirus pandemic could end. (By Axios). Read here.

  • Weather🌤️🌧️: Northeast monsoon arrives in Chennai, may intensify next week. (By Times of India). Read here.

  • Weather🌤️🌧️: The city witnessed heavy rainfall last week and as expected several roads were inundated. This report, “Why rain paralyses normal life; how to mitigate disasters”, talks about methods to solve this never-ending issue. (By Times of India). Read here.

  • COVID-19 Impact🦠: “Forget what you saw at Kumaran Silks, small traders in Chennai are struggling.” A video recently went viral showing a jam-packed shopping scene at Kumaran Silks that left netizens wondering if retailers are back to normalcy. However, this report talks about the challenges small business owners face due to the pandemic. (By Citizen Matters). Read here.

Tamil Nadu
  • Invest in TN📊💰: Chief Minister Edappadi K Palaniswami invited Tamil diaspora to invest in emerging sectors in the state. (By Times of India). Read here.

  • Tata group to set up ₹5000 crore phone component making unit in TN📲: Report. Tata Sons company, Tata Electronics, has been allotted 500 acres by Tamil Nadu Industrial Development Corporation and that group firm Titan Co Ltd’s precision engineering division will provide expertise for this project.” (By Live Mint). Read here.

  • PAI Rankings🏆: The Public Affairs Index-2020 released by the Public Affairs Centre in Bengaluru declared Kerala the best-governed state in the country, while Uttar Pradesh ended at the bottom in the large states category. Four southern states, Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, and Karnataka stood in the first four ranks in the large state category in terms of governance.” (By The Wire). Read here.

  • Hate Speech by Uttar Pradesh CM😦⚠️: In his most menacing comments to date on Hindu-Muslim romance and marriage, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath warned men who “hide their identities” and “play with the honour of daughters and sisters” to get ready for their own funerals.” (By The Wire). Read here.

  • FB📲: Facebook’s Ankhi Das, Under Cloud Over Hate Speech Controversy, Quits Company. Das was recently in the public spotlight after allegations emerged that she had opposed applying hate-speech rules to a BJP politician and other Hindu nationalist individuals and groups”. (By The Wire). Read here. (Related reading: How Facebook favours BJP? Report by The Wall Street Journal). Read here.

  • Crisis in France⚠️: “France is facing a national security crisis following the beheading of a teacher by a radical Islamist for showing a cartoon of Prophet Muhammad from the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo. Depictions of the Holy Prophet is considered blasphemous in Islam. As a result, French President Emmanuel Macron defended the newspaper and said that his government is preparing to introduce a new law in December which would give the French authorities to monitor and regulate mosques and Islamic communities. Arab countries including Kuwait, Jordan, and Qatar threatened to boycott French goods in response.” Read here.

  • Turkey-France Heated Relations Explained💪🏼: “Why another Charlie Hebdo cartoon is fanning tensions between Turkey and France. Turkey's Erdogan has called for a boycott of French goods and questioned Emmanuel Macron's sanity, after the latter declared that "Islam is a religion that is in crisis today all over the world". (By The Indian Express). Read here.

  • Attack in Nice, France🔪: "France has been plunged into mourning after three people were killed in a knife attack at a church in the southern French city of Nice. World leaders have expressed solidarity with France in the wake of what President Emmanuel Macron called an "Islamist terrorist attack". It is the second suspected Islamist extremist attack on French soil in less than two weeks." (By BBC). Read here.

  • French Muslims Speakout🧕🏻: “After Terror Attacks, Muslims Wonder About Their Place in France. French officials’ attack on “Islamic separatism” and the “enemy within” has Muslims questioning whether they will ever fully be accepted. (By The New York Times). Read here.

  • The man who transformed Samsung passes away📲: Lee Kun-hee built Samsung from a noodle trading company into a sprawling conglomerate that is among the world’s most valuable firms. (By The Hustle). Read here.

  • The Largest IPO in history📈: Ant Group, the Chinese fintech giant, is set to raise at least $34.4 billion in its IPO, according to new pricing terms released yesterday. That would make it the largest public offering in history. (By Morning Brew). Read here.

  • Kashmir Times closed by authorities without warning🗞️🛑. “‘It’s political vendetta’: Why Kashmir Times’ office, one of the leading English-language dailies in the Kashmir Valley, in Srinagar was sealed. The paper’s editor Anuradha Bhasin Jamwal says it’s a ‘targeted move’ to muzzle her. (By News Laundry). Read here.

  • Our News habits🗞️: India saw the highest news intake among major countries during the lockdown. (By Live Mint). Read here.


  • 👆🏽Bihar election 2020: All you need to know. "The 2020 Bihar assembly election will be held between October 28 and November 7. Results for the Bihar elections will be announced on November 10. Here is all you the information you need to know before Bihar heads into assembly election." (By India Today). Read here.

  • 👆🏽The electoral calculus in Bihar, explained in 10 charts. "Nitish Kumar is facing anti-incumbency after 15 years in power, but a committed voter base and the lack of a better option make him best-placed to win". (By Live Mint). Read here.

  • 👆🏽Everything About Seats, Voters & Caste Factors: "Having a history of low voter turnout, here’s a look at some basic statistics ahead of Bihar Assembly elections." (By The Quint). Read here.

  • 👆🏽Baby walker to capsicum, how Election Commission decides on party symbols. "Voters can expect to see a myriad of symbols like chapatti roller, dolli, bangles, capsicum on the ballots as they go out to vote on October 28, November 3 and November 7." (By The Indian Express). Read here.

  • ⚠️34% of candidates in the second phase Bihar elections face criminal cases: Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) Report. (By The Hindu). Read here. Read the ADR Report here in full detail.

The biggest day yet in the history of the United States is just days away. Let’s start with the basics.
  • 👆🏽US General Election Explained: Campaign, Voting and Results.All you need to know as the world’s largest economy gets set to elect a president and vice president, a House of Representatives, 35 Senators and 13 governors on November 3, 2020.” (By The Wire). Read here.

Here’s a look at what the election means to India
  • 👳🏼Why US Election 2020 matters to India. "A look at how US-India relationship has evolved, and its highs and lows irrespective of whether the President has been a Democrat or a Republican." (By The Indian Express). Read here.

  • 👳🏼The importance of being Indian in America. While many Indian Americans are campaigning vigorously for Democratic nominee Joe Biden, several others are making strenuous efforts to keep Donald Trump in the White House. The Hindu reports on the issues and aspirations of a politically charged community”. Read here.

A short overview of the election by AP
Social Media is going to play a big role in this election. Here’s some major news:
  • 📲How Big Tech is prepping for elections. “The measures that Google, Facebook, and Twitter are taking to stop the spread of election-related misinformation.” (By Hustle) Read here.

  • 📲Facebook approves Trump ads that violate its pre-election rules. Popular Information, a two-person newsletter led by Judd Legum reported that "hundreds of new Trump ads violated Facebook's pre-election policies. These ads were approved by Facebook earlier this week. They were taken down by Facebook yesterday in response to an inquiry from this newsletter". Read here.

Some other big political news in the US:
  • 👆🏽A Day-By-Day Guide to What Could Happen If This Election Goes Bad. “Election experts game out the chaos that could unfold in the minutes, hours and days after the last ballot is cast.” (By Politico). Read here.

  • 👩🏻‍⚖️Amy Coney Barrett: “The Supreme Court has a new justice on the bench.”. (By The Skimm) Read here.

What to Watch?📺
  • Don’t miss out “The Trial of Chicago 7” on Netflix. Written and directed by Aaron Sorkin, one of the finest screenwriters of Hollywood, this flick is one of the most important movies of the year. It’s a must-watch considering the critical state of democracy across the world.

Some critical analysis of the movie in a political context✊🏻
  • ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’ & Delhi Riots: We Need A Few Good Men. The report finds similarities between the movie and the infamous Delhi riots that happened earlier this year. (By The Quint). Read here.

  • The Chicago 7 trial feels very real in 2020. (Opinion by Daniel L. Greenberg for CNN. Read here.

  • The political context of ‘The Trial of the Chicago 7’. (By The Hindu). Read here.

What to Read?📚
  • ✒️Asking screenwriters to pen this awful year: “2020 reads like a TV script. So we asked screenwriters how it should end.” (By Washington Post). Read here.

  • ✒️Flashback: Here’s What 2020 Looked Like to the Sci-Fi Writers of 1974. “In the early 1970s, eight science-fiction writers tried to imagine what the far-flung year of 2020 would look like. They ended up being both wrong and right.” (By Mel Magazine). Read here.

  • 😈Science of Fear: The Scariest Movies According To 'Science,' Visualized.” (By Digg) Read here.

  • 👩🏻‍🔬Spotlight: A Woman in Focus: “How a MacArthur ‘Genius’ Scientist Gets It Done. Polina V. Lishko, a cellular and developmental biologist at UC Berkeley, was named a MacArthur fellow, a distinction for which she was awarded $625,000 in funding for her work in reproductive biology. Here, Lishko tells the Cut about what a “typical” day looks like during a pandemic.” Read here.

  • 📰The Media Rumble: “Vice Gets Squeezed. Shane Smith convinced Rupert Murdoch and Disney that his company was, as the kids say, the shit. Until it wasn’t. How did Vice blow it—and trash billions in valuation?” (By Air Mail). Read here.

Life Skill🧬🛠️
  • 🧠How to avoid burnout by working less and doing more. Feeling burned out? Here's how to leverage priorities, positive constraints, and psychology to avoid a long-term funk. Read here.

Entrepreneurial Tips👨🏽‍💼👩🏽‍💼🧳
  • 💎The secrets of being a successful freelancer: “Too often, freelancers are told they have to choose between being creative or making money. Financial expert Paco de Leon debunks this thinking -- and gives practical advice on how you can set yourself apart and get paid what you deserve.” Watch here.

Social Media and Digital Tools🌐📲📶
  • ✒️Pros and Cons of Using Grammarly, an AI-powered grammar checking, and proofreading tool. (By Blogging Guide) Read here.

  • 📲Authenticity on Instagram: How to Grow Your Account with Authentic Content. Read here.

  • 📲LinkedIn: How to Use LinkedIn Stories to Promote Your Business. Read here.

Media/Internet Literacy📰🗞️🎙️
  • 📲⚠️Debunking Misinformation Handbook 2020: The Debunking Handbook 2020 summarises the current state of the science of misinformation and its debunking. It was written by a team of 22 prominent scholars of misinformation and its debunking, and it represents the current consensus on the science of debunking for engaged citizens, policymakers, journalists, and other practitioners.” Read here.

  • 📲⚠️Trolling: Answers To 13 Questions You Might Have About It. “Trolls are a public menace. We need to find better strategies to deal with them.” (By Media Buddhi). Read here.

  • 📲⚠️Disinformation That Kills: The Expanding Battlefield Of Digital Warfare. Since 2016, the digital battlefield has become more sophisticated and widespread across the globe. False information about major events from the Covid-19 outbreak to the 2020 US election is jeopardizing public health and safety. Here we dig into how modern warfare is being waged on the internet, and the steps being taken to stop it”. (By CB Insights). Read here.

  • 🔥🌎Advice from climate journalists. “You all might not be climate journalists, but you should know what makes a good one. Here's what some of the best in the business say.” (By Heated) Read here.

  • 📲Busting Fake News: “5 and a 1/2 Steps for Fact-Checking Your Social Media Feed.” (By Morning Brew). Read here.

This marks the end of today’s edition. See you soon! Stay safe, wear masks, wash your hands, and spread love. Feel free to forward this email to your family and friends. 😊❤️

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